(April 23, 2024).  This week’s new Billboard top 10 chart is reminiscent of the days of old.  There’s actually a little something in it for everyone.

On the Hot 100 dated April 27 (revealed Monday the 22nd), the top ten boasts one of the most eclectic groups of songs and artists in recent memory.

And even while these songs remain among the most popular in the country, they’re about to be washed completely out of the top 10 by an oncoming monsoon of tunes from Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department… not because her songs are more popular, but because they’re hers… and her superfans — a powerful bunch known as Swifties — were curious about how they sounded. 

Let’s take a quick look at the latest top 10 and marvel at its rare diversity in styles as they prepare to be (temporarily, at least) upended by Taylor’s latest chart blitz.

Irishman Hozier achieved his first No. 1 single with “Too Sweet” this week

At the very top is Irish singer/songwriter Hozier with the soulful pop bop “Too Sweet.”  It’s his first No. 1 song, the first topper by a non-American act in over six months, and the first No. 1 by an Irish act since the late Sinead O’Connor reigned supreme with Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” in 1990.

The only other Irish acts that have ever topped the Hot 100 are U2 (in 1987) and Gilbert O’Sullivan (in 1972), coincidentally both of whom this writer has seen in concert in the past six years.

Sitting in the runner-up spot this week is the beef-stirring rap smash “Like That” — arguably hip-hop’s most impactful tune this decade — by Future and Metro Boomin featuring Kendrick Lamar.  The blistering track has flipped the rap world on its head, essentially causing one rapper (J. Cole) to issue a diss response, then apologize and retract it a week later (making that song the first to debut as high as No. 6 on the Hot 100 and completely exit the chart a week later).

“Like That” has also triggered two diss responses by one of its main targets — Drake — both mainly aimed at Lamar.  It’s also prompted a diss rap by Rick Ross (targeting Drake) and a remix version of “Like That” featuring Kanye West, who noted that its collaborators were “energized” by the thought of Drake’s “elimination.”

“Like That” by Future & Metro Boomin has sparked rap’s latest civil war among A-listers

Below that visceral former No. 1 — the first rap track in six years to spend its first three weeks at the top — the remainder of the top ten is a friendlier bunch.

At No. 3 is the pop-folk-rock anthem by Benson Boone (a newcomer) whose “Beautiful Things” has been praised by critics for its stirring, agonizingly painful, yet passionate plea for love and acceptance by the 21-year-old Washington State native.  That former runner-up has been knocking on the door to No. 1 for months now and, sadly, appears to have missed its best shot. 

There’s also the former No. 1 by Teddy Swims — another newcomer — whose first hit “Lose Control” topped the chart a month ago.  That song, sitting at No. 4 now, is the kind of pleading R&B-rock-soul blend that would have labeled Swims “blue-eyed soul” in a different era, but wouldn’t be allowed entry on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart today even if R&B stations jumped all over it based on how the magazine’s editors manage the genre charts in the streaming era.

This week’s top ten also contains country — Beyoncé’s former No. 1 “Texas Hold ‘Em” — and less-inciting hip-hop in Jack Harlow’s former No. 1 “Lovin’ On Me,” at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.

There’s also dance-pop in the form of relative newcomer Sabrina Carpenter’s playfully executed “Espresso,” a metaphor-filled debut at No. 7 in which the 24-year-old likens herself (and her bedroom abilities) to the titular specialty java.

Sabrina Carpenter had a big debut this week at No. 7 with “Espresso.”

Ariana Grande is next at No. 8 with her former No. 1 “We Can’t Be Friends (wait for your love)” a synth-pop ditty that’s also made inroads on Billboard’s Dance/Mix Show Airplay chart.  She’s followed by yet another singer/songwriter Noah Kahan and the pure folk of two-year-old “Stick Season” at No. 9.

The top ten is anchored by superstar SZA and the return of “Saturn” to the region (after peaking at No. 6 in March).  The atmospheric R&B track finds an introspective SZA pondering whether life would be better on another planet (Saturn) given the protagonist’s disillusionment with things here on Earth.

So you’ve got pop, rock, soul, country, dance, hip-hop, R&B, folk, and synth all cohabitating in this week’s top ten on the Billboard Hot 100 — an assorted mix of ten tunes by ten (or more) different acts who wrote or cowrote the songs they perform — and none of them by Drake or Taylor Swift.

Savor it now.  

Because it will all change next week when the tidal wave that is Swift makes another bid for history as songs from her new The Tortured Poets Department are projected to sweep in and occupy all ten of the top slots on that week’s Hot 100, making it the second time she’s accomplished the feat (after tracks from her 2022 opus Midnights did the same 18 months ago).

This week’s top ten (April 27):

1.“Too Sweet”Hozier
2.“Like That”Future & Metro Boomin ft. Kendrick Lamar
3.“Beautiful Things”Benson Boone
4.“Lose Control”Teddy Swims
5.“Texas Hold ‘Em”Beyoncé 
6.“Lovin on Me”Jack Harlow
7.“Espresso”Sabrina Carpenter
8.“We Can’t Be Friends”Ariana Grande 
9.“Stick Season”Noah Kahan

And next week’s projection (May 4 chart based on April 17 estimates):

1.“Fortnight”Taylor Swift ft. Post Malone
2.“The Tortured Poets Dept.”Taylor Swift
3.“Down Bad”Taylor Swift
4.“So Long, London”Taylor Swift
5.“Florida!!!”Taylor Swift ft. Florence + the Machine 
6.“My Boy Only Breaks His Favorite Toys”Taylor Swift 
7.“But Daddy I Love Him”Taylor Swift 
8.“I Can Do It With A Broken Heart”Taylor Swift 
9.“Who’s Afraid of Little Old Me?”Taylor Swift 
10.“Fresh Out the Slammer”Taylor Swift 

Of course, the order is subject to change with several days remaining in the tracking period, and there’s even a chance that Drake might break up the monotony… eh monopoly with his diss track, “Push Ups.”

But, for context, no other act than Swift has occupied the entire top ten in the same week, and only Drake has come close (he and 21 Savage owned positions 2 through 9, also in November 2022, with songs from their joint effort Her Loss, with Drizzy previously holding down the top seven positions in 2018 with joints from his Scorpion album when it first impacted.

This type of chart domination clearly reflects Taylor’s and Drake’s otherworldly popularity, but it’s also an artifact of the streaming era, a fact that has opened up today’s Billboard charts to criticism for not truly reflecting what songs are popular but instead documenting only “curiosity” clicks.

More pointedly, when a superstar act like Swift or Drake releases a new album, it’s almost guaranteed to generate huge streaming numbers for all of its tracks — especially during the first week of release — causing each of those songs to enter the chart at high positions (it helps that Swift and Drake and a handful of others have huge built-in fanbases who click their music to the tune of 100 million monthly listens on Spotify alone and who will always stream their new product during the first week of release, no matter what).

Songs from Taylor Swift’s TTPD albums are expected to dominate next week’s Hot 100

Further supporting this “curious but not necessarily feeling it” theory is the fact that the songs practically appear on the chart in the order they’re sequenced on the album — unless there’s a deeper track that’s already being marketed by the label as a single — suggesting that interest wanes as listeners click deeper through the new album release.

Another factor supporting the curiosity-listen phenomenon is that the “non-singles” don’t usually stick around on the charts long after impact week.

When Midnights debuted in November 2022, the album’s tracks occupied the entire top ten, 13 of the top fifteen positions, and 20 total slots on the Hot 100.

Four weeks later, the only Taylor songs remaining in the top 40 were the single “Anti-Hero” at No. 1, and “Lavender Haze” at No. 26.  Only a handful other of tracks remained below No. 40.  

By January 2023, when holiday radio programming ended and normal fare returned to the chart, only two Midnights songs besides “Anti-Hero” and “Lavendar Haze” remained on the entire Hot 100, both below No. 80 (“Bejeweled” and “Midnight Rain”).

Coming back to now, all 31 of Taylor’s TTPD songs are expected to impact the Hot 100 next week, led by first track (and single) “Fortnight” featuring Post Malone.  Early projections even had Taylor owning the top twelve positions on that chart — with the first twelve songs on the album.

Even with record-breaking streaming numbers already bagged in its first week, the track record of her previous albums’ performance suggest that there’ll be a huge drop-off in Week 2, with most of the tunes falling out of the top ten. By the end of May, it’s conceivable that only a handful of TTPD entries — maybe as few as four or five — will still be listed on the entire 100-position list.

That, my fellow chart geeks, is what you call curiosity… not song popularity.  And, by the way, that diverse mix of tunes occupying this week’s top ten lineup?  Most of them will return to the upper echelon as they had never really lost their popularity in the first place.

Taylor’s “Fortnight” ft. Post Malone will likely be the only TTPD tune remaining in the top ten after its first month of release.

For years, Billboard has faced criticism from the old guard who remember when an artist had to officially release a song as a “single” (in some physical form) before it was eligible to chart.  They often cite the Beatles who dominated the entire top five of a chart in April 1964 with five actual vinyl singles — something no one else had ever done before or since — while lamenting that comparisons between the Fab Four’s feat and those of Taylor Swift or Drake are like apples and oatmeal.

Of course, in the streaming and downloads era, all songs on an album are fair game for chart contention thanks to a rule change Billboard made more than 25 years ago (November 1998) when labels had stopped releasing physical singles of some of the biggest radio hits.  Back then, the industry forced Billboard’s hands when big radio smashes of the era were missing the charts because they didn’t have physical CD, cassette or vinyl components commercially available. 

But today’s chart blitzes by Swift, Drake and a handful of other acts aren’t being done with huge radio hits.  Radio, especially the pop format, still pretty much follows the same formula it always has by playing one or two (and rarely three) key tracks from an album in heavy rotation simultaneously.

In that way, radio playlists still mimic what consumers are truly invested in when it comes to a popular artist’s new songs.  The handful of TTPD tunes remaining on the Hot 100 a month from now will likely be the ones that receive some kind of radio support, or go viral for another reason (like a TikTok challenge).

The Beatles dominated the entire top five of the Hot 100 on April 4, 1964.

So far Billboard hasn’t shown any indication that it will try to adjust its formula to address this “curiosity” phenomenon impacting its charts, even while other countries have already done so. 

For example, The Official U.K. Singles Charts (the British equivalent to Billboard’s Hot 100 compiled weekly by the Official Charts Company) implemented a new rule several years ago where it caps the number of songs from one album that can impact a single chart at three.  With this model, the only three songs from TTPD that would debut on next week’s top 100 are “Fortnight,” the title track, and “Down Bad,” based on the above projections.

While the U.K. model makes for fewer artist-dominated headlines, it certainly results in a chart that’s safe from being subjected to the momentary splashes of curiosity-based clicks following a new album’s release.  Billboard could go a long way towards credibility by adopting such a model for future charts. 

Also, the formula that Billboard currently uses to convert streams to song sales incorporates a 125:1 or 375:1 ratio, depending on whether the streams are via paid subscriptions or free, ad-based platforms.  This means that a song has to be streamed 125 times to count as one sale on a subscription platform, and 375 times on a free platform to count as one sale.

Those numbers are multiplied by ten to equate the sale of one album, which, btw, I’m still a believer that all tracks’ streaming numbers should contribute to the album sales calculation.

Still, those conversion ratios were developed years ago when streaming wasn’t nearly as big as it is today.  With DSP click totals having grown exponentially in the past ten years, perhaps it’s time that Billboard review its current formula to see if a more balanced, less turbulent chart can be achieved.

In the meantime, the top of this week’s Hot 100 represents one of the best mixes of popular tunes in recent memory.

And they’ll be back in a couple weeks… as soon as the tidal wave that is Taylor Swift subsides.


DJRob (he/him) is a freelance music blogger from the East Coast who covers R&B, hip-hop, disco, pop, rock and country genres – plus lots of music news and current stuff!  You can follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @djrobblog and on Meta’s Threads.

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